Disturbed by reports of truckies’ health suffering as a result of the increasing Covid-testing demands, WA Senator Glenn Sterle has added his voice to the industry call to allow drivers the option of using self-testing kits.
Below is a copy of the letter the former truckie sent to Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce and Health Minister Greg Hunt today urging them to take action.
Dear Prime Minister and Ministers,
I write at a critical time for the transport industry. Current lockdowns continue to put pressure on our supply chains and our essential truck drivers who we rely on to move freight around the country are the ones feeling it the most.
In recent weeks, we have seen truck drivers locked out of shower and toilet facilities at service stations, rest areas and distribution centres, truck drivers being forced to turn back at borders despite having the correct permits, truck drivers being forced to stand in long lines in the rain while they wait for a covid test and there was one case in Victoria last week where a man was kicked out of a hospital moments before going in for a serious medical procedure because staff discovered he was a truck driver.
Our truck drivers deserve better than this.
The most pressing issue however is the mandatory testing regime that drivers are being forced to undertake which is not only impractical but is posing severe risks to their health. Drivers are being forced to have tests every three days in order for them to continue to work. In some cases, drivers are having to wait longer than that for the results to come back.
Furthermore, regular testing through the invasive use of buds into the nostrils is leading to cases where truck drivers are experiencing regular nose bleeds, headaches and other repercussions which we can’t expect them to continue to put up with when they already have extreme pressures on them to finish their jobs while managing their fatigue. This is not sustainable.
Prime Minister, you recently said: “The truckies, they’re doing a great job keeping Australia moving and we want to minimise that inconvenience for them”. Well now its time for you to lead and actually do something to minimise the inconvenience our truckies are experiencing day in, day out.
I implore you all to give serious consideration to allowing our essential truck drivers to use rapid antigen testing which is self-administered and can provide results in 15-20 minutes, eliminating the need to line up at testing centres where parking is an issue while trying to manage fatigue.
These self-test kits are manufactured in Australia and are currently being used at the Olympics. If they are good enough for athletes competing at the Olympics and the US Government, who has just ordered 20 million of them, why aren’t they good enough for our essential truck drivers who have kept this country moving throughout the pandemic?
Once again, I ask that you give serious consideration to my request. The health and the livelihoods of our essential truck drivers relies on you taking urgent and required action now.